How do you feel about talking on the phone in English?
Do words like ‘nervous’, ‘anxious’, ‘awkward’ come to mind?
If you’re like a lot of my clients, you would probably rather do almost anything else to avoid speaking on the phone in English.
It can be frustrating and embarrassing to keep repeating yourself over and over again.
It’s even worse when you can’t understand the English speaker on the other end of the line, especially if that person is not a native-English speaker either.
You may even try to put things off until it’s almost too late if it requires talking to someone on the phone.
Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone.
Let’s face it. Talking on the phone is not something people do a lot of these days. Texting, emailing, playing games or taking pictures are more common uses for our phone than actually talking to a live human being on the other end.
We find it difficult to cope when we’re separated from our phones, and yet, many of us would prefer to never answer a ringing phone, its one original purpose.
In fact, phones are becoming the most popular way to avoid talking to people. The less we talk on the phone, the more stressful it becomes when we have to actually have a conversation with someone on it.
Talking on the phone can make you even more anxious if you’re not speaking in your native language. Small fears pop up in your mind:
- “What if they can’t understand a word I say?”
- “What if I can’t understand a word they say?”
- “What if I have to repeat myself through the whole conversation?”
- “What if they get irritated with me?”
- “It’s going to be so awkward!”
It’s enough to make you want to never speak on the phone again.
North Americans aren’t very good at understanding accents, especially on the phone
To be honest, the burden is often unfairly placed on non-native speakers to repeat and bend over backward (try extra hard) to make themselves understood, particularly on the phone.
North Americans are not known for being skilled at understanding accented English. Only a quarter of American adults say they can speak a second language. Less than half of those people feel they can speak it well.
Most Americans are sincere when they say they have trouble understanding people with accents. The U.S. is a big, English speaking country. They simply don’t have the same level of exposure to the range of accents and languages that people from other countries do.
This is not an excuse for Americans when they can’t understand people with different accents, it simply is the reality for now. Don’t despair. You may have to take on more of the responsibility to be understood but developing these skills benefits you more in the end.
Phone skills are important for you career
Sometimes there is no way around it. Having a phone conversation may be the best way to get the information you need or to get something done.
In business, talking with someone on the phone is the best way to warm up a relationship. If you want a leadership position, you have to get very comfortable with spontaneous, live interaction. This means getting comfortable speaking on the phone in English.
Even if you’re in a career that doesn’t require you to speak very much during the day, like a data scientist or an engineer, your expertise will still be required on a conference call sooner or later.
If you can’t explain your ideas clearly on the phone you simply won’t get the credit or the recognition that you deserve. That recognition will be transferred to the person that is able to speak clearly on that conference call.
Being able to communicate your ideas clearly on the phone is not only important to your manager and your team. It’s important to your career because it gives you options and opportunities that you may currently be avoiding.
Learn how to take control of the situation
Imagine how empowering it would feel to speak on the phone in English as confidently as you do in your native language.
What could you accomplish if speaking on the phone was no longer an obstacle for you?
Would you feel more confident during that phone interview?
Could you take your time explaining the important details to the team on your next conference call — finally getting full credit for your great ideas?
How much easier would it be for you to schedule your next appointment or make a reservation without repeating yourself over and over again?
Learning a few simple techniques can change speaking on the phone from a source of stress to a useful opportunity.
New mini-course that can help get you there
Soon, I’ll be releasing a new mini-course that will teach you 10 easy-to-follow techniques that will take the stress out of speaking on the phone called ‘How To Have Successful Phone Calls in English.’
- Learn how to prepare in advance so your next phone call doesn’t have you cringing in embarrassment.
- Know how to put your listener at ease so they are more patient (which helps you relax, too).
- Practice specific tips to make yourself easier to understand, no matter who is on the other end of the line.
- Gain insight into U.S. business culture so you send the right message for being in control and ‘on top of things.’
Look for the release of this new mini-course in a few weeks.
In the meantime, check out the link below to download 5 FREE practical phone tips right away. Keep it by your phone to help make your next call less stressful.